Stanley 12 in 1 Review
Cons: Virtually unusable screw drivers, all tools require activating pliers before deployment
Our Analysis and Test Results
It is hard to believe that Stanley can even acquire the materials in the not-so-cleverly-named 84-519K for the price it appears for online. This is an absolute bargain-basement product, with remarkably good construction quality for the price. Function suffers a little bit, but the construction and utility for light-duty applications are well worth the price. As a super value product, we have no problems recommending this Stanley tool.
Overall the Stanley ties with the Leatherman Squirt PS4. These two products, though, are very different. The better comparison for the Stanley is to the lower-scoring Gerber Suspension (and identical twin Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate). The Stanley is a little more robust and versatile than the lower scoring Gerber tools.
We grant scores and ratings in the Function category based on both the absolute number of functions and the presence of certain key functions. Our testers have found that there are a few main things that are more often used. Our ideal multi-tool, of course, has all possible features. However, people use the knife blade, pliers, bit driver, and scissors the most. Of these, the Stanley has only pliers and a knife blade. Overall, the Stanley has ten distinct functions.
The Stanley is solidly in the middle of the pack, regarding functions. It has more features than the smaller tools like the Leatherman Squirt PS4 and the Top Pick Gerber Dime. It also has more features than the Leatherman Skeletool and the Gerber Crucial. When it comes to dollars per function, the Stanley is impressive. For its versatility at this bare-bones price, the Stanley is unmatched. For absolute number of features, though, the more expensive tools surpass it. The Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI has way more functions than the Stanley, as does the Victorinox SwissTool Spirit X.
Multi-tool comfort and usability are functions of the handle shape, the accessibility of the tools, and the tools' position and how it relates to usability. The Stanley has slightly rounded handles that arc away from one another in pliers mode. This makes for a profile that is easy on the hands without pinching. All the other tools on the Stanley require deploying the pliers, opening the desired feature, then re-closing the pliers.
When a knife blade is accessed this way in a multi-tool, the working edge of the blade faces "into" the bulk of the handle. This means that less of the blade is usable than on a tool in which the blade is accessed from the closed pliers. We prefer multi-tools on which at least the main blade(s) can be accessed without deploying the pliers. It is both easier to deploy such a blade, and the resulting blade working edge orientation is more conducive to use.
The 84-519K and the Top Pick Leatherman Crunch are the only tools we tested that have all features "inside" the pliers handle. On all the other tools we reviewed at least one function is accessible without deploying the pliers. We can forgive this with the Top Pick Crunch because the locking attribute of the pliers narrows their construction and design options. On the Stanley, it seems that only the budget design and construction philosophy has informed the choice. If that is the reason, it is perhaps worth it to you.
This is a very inexpensive tool. The more "sophisticated" tools (all much more expensive) discern themselves primarily regarding ergonomics. Pay more for something like even the other Best Buy Leatherman Wingman and you get a one-handed, one-step deployed knife blade. Even the otherwise lower scoring Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate has tools that open from outside the closed pliers handles.
Portability is a function, first and foremost, of size and weight. The Stanley is similar in size to all the full-size tools. Its weight comes in right in the middle. Next, we consider carrying options. For those of you that will carry this tool loose in your pocket, the external corners are relatively smooth, but the open "skeletal" construction of the handles catches pocket lint and loose change.
The Stanley has no pocket clip for holding the tool up and out of your pocket detritus. It does, however, come with a nylon belt holster. Our team had no troubles with this, but plenty of other online reviewers experienced failure of seams under very light use. Perhaps a quality control issue at Stanley?
Of course, the smaller tools are going to score higher regarding portability. Both the tiny tools, including the Top Pick Gerber Dime score much higher. Another excellent scorer is the non-award winning, but still excellent Leatherman Skeletool CX. In many ways, the Skeletool is the portability ideal, for a full-size tool. It is light and compact (though it has fewer features than most, the features are handy) and can be carried loose in your pocket, clipped to your pocket, or clipped to a lanyard or keychain. Even the much larger and more feature-rich Editors' Choice Leatherman Charge TTI has a pocket clip. We like this attribute. Most of our test team prefers pocket clipped carry.
We are torn on our evaluation of construction quality of the 84-519K. The pliers of a budget multi-tool are often imprecise and flexible. That is not the case with the Stanley. The pliers are sturdy, tight, and carefully machined and matched. The wire cutter can cut a coat hanger handily. Stanley has literally millions of tools in use and decades of experience. This experience shows in the utility of the pliers.
However, the other attributes of the Stanley suffer. Notably, the three screwdrivers are nearly useless. There are two flat drivers and one Phillips head. The two flat drivers are both small, and similar to one another in size. The larger is still too small to grab your standard flat head screw effectively. All three of the drivers are "slippery" and flexible. When twisting screws of normal tension, the entire tool rotates with it. The Phillips head driver is particularly prone, as well, to inadvertently closing during use. Something in its geometry pushes it closed while the user is twisting a screw open.
The other ultra budget tools suffer some of the same drawbacks, but don't have the tight pliers of the Stanley. The Gerber Suspension has a construction quality that is roughly similar to that of the Stanley, overall. The Gerber has poorer pliers, but slightly better other tools. The good news on the construction quality of the Stanley is that they offer an easy-to-use lifetime warranty, just like they do with all of their tools.
This is a good tool for your car or emergency kit. In sporadic use, the issues are easily forgiven. For strategic placement and subsequent occasional use, the rock-bottom price is very easily affordable.
Stanley has created a tool of remarkable value. Its construction is better than some, and none are less expensive.
Occasional multi-tool users will shop based on price. For these, we have curated a list of three Best Buy winners. Each is a good value, but each is targeted at a different user. The Stanley is the budget option for he or she that is looking for a tool for only very occasional use. The Best Buy Leatherman Wingman is the best value in a tool that one will carry every day, everywhere. Finally, the Leatherman Wave is for the professional laborer, on a budget.
— Jediah Porter